Aria Tiger with room to run at Carolina Tiger Rescue



Carolina Tiger Rescue is a 501(c)3 nonprofit wildlife sanctuary whose mission is saving and protecting wild cats in captivity and in the wild.


Carolina Tiger Rescue Stories

It is estimated that there are between 5,000 – 10,000 tigers in private hands in the United States.

This is how Aria Tiger looked when she was rescued from a private owner in South Carolina in 2013. She was purchased from a breeder and kept as a pet in a family’s back yard for 10 years.  

When Carolina Tiger Rescue was called in, she was days from death because the family could not find a vet who was willing to care for her.

In addition to a lack of knowledgeable medical care, many tigers in private hands are not given proper diets, adequate room to roam, or stimulation to keep them from becoming bored and developing behavior disorders.

Even when private owners have the best of intentions, wild cats often suffer greatly in this kind of captivity.

There is no federal regulation about owning wild animals.

In 4 states, including North Carolina, your neighbor could have a tiger in their back yard and you don’t have to know.

When Aria arrived, she weighed around 200 pounds and barely had the strength to lift her head.  Our veterinarian was able to diagnose Aria with exocrine pancreatic insufficiency. We began feeding her beef pancreas to provide the enzymes that her body didn’t make, allowing her to absorb nutrition from her food.  Aria’s health improved greatly and she climbed to a healthy weight of around 400 pounds, her coat filling in and showing all of us what a beautiful and strong wild cat she was.

Right: Aria happy and healthy, relaxing in the shade

Tigers for Sale

  • A tiger cub can be purchased for less than the cost of a purebred puppy.  Breeders advertise freely online.
  • The number of tigers kept by private owners in the US is estimated to be anywhere from 5,000 to 10,000 – but there is no way to know for sure because there are no federal regulations in place regarding private ownership of wild cats.
  • At the same time, wild tiger populations have decreased from 100,000 individuals to 3,800 – world wide – in just 100 years.
  • These tigers are not representative of any individual subspecies.  They are “mutt” tigers and, as such, are not eligible for placement in zoos if an owner decides they can no longer care for their adult tiger.

Left:  Kaela Tiger after being picked up by animal control

Kaela and Rajah Tigers were found as 6-month-old cubs walking alongside the highway outside of Charlotte, North Carolina in January, 2005.  

No one ever came forward to say where they came from, but the most reasonable explanation is that they were kept by a private owner who realized that they had very quickly become too large and too dangerous to be pets or to be used in a cub petting or photo opportunity business. It was a stroke of luck that the person who first saw them was an off-duty police officer who was able to stop traffic and call animal control to get the cubs from the busy roadside. The cubs went to the NC Zoo for a quarantine period and then came to their forever home at Carolina Tiger Rescue.

Kaela and Rajah as 10-month-old cubs.  They weighed approximately 90 lbs each and were very playful.  They used their sharp claws, teeth, and incredible strength already – they would not have been safe pets.

Kaela and Rajah at 4 years old.  Kaela is now around 400 lbs and Rajah 450 lbs.  Those sharp claws and teeth now have a lot more power behind them.  Any human contact with wild animals of this nature would be extremely dangerous.


  • Check out #PredatorsNotPets on Instagram and Facebook and add your voice to the call – predators are not pets!
  • You cannot love the wild out of an animal. Share this information with people you know who are considering ownership of a dangerous wild animal as a pet.
  • Did you know? Carolina Tiger Rescue is currently home to 12 animals who came to us after being kept as pets.
  • One of Carolina Tiger Rescue’s guiding values is our belief that the ideal home for wild animals is in the wild – they should not be kept as pets.

Show Your Stripes

Wear your heart on your sleeve and sport our International Tiger Day t-shirt to spread the word!

Become a member and be in the loop to learn more about the problems with captive wild cats and what you can do to help.

Paws To Make A Difference

“Paws to Make a Difference” in honor of International Tiger Day.
Make a donation of $5 or more and a Paw with your name on it will be added to the gift shop wall! Your gift will help Carolina Tiger Rescue provide the best habitats, health care, food, and enrichment for the animals who have found a home at Carolina Tiger Rescue!

About Carolina Tiger Rescue

Carolina Tiger Rescue is a 501(c)3 nonprofit wildlife sanctuary whose mission is saving and protecting wild cats in captivity and in the wild.

Carolina Tiger Rescue

1940 Hanks Chapel Rd. Pittsboro, NC 27312 (919) 542-4684 (919) 542-4454

Wildlife should be in the Wild



  • We believe the ideal home for wildlife is in the wild.
  • We believe it is critical to conserve their native habitats.
  • We believe wild animals should not be kept as pets.
  • We believe captive breeding should ONLY be done in accordance with Species Survival plans.
  • We believe all wild animals, both captive and in their native habitats, deserve to be treated with respect and not exploited for entertainment and commercial purposes.

Visit Carolina Tiger Rescue

Tiger at Carolina Tiger Rescue

Public Tours

Twilight Tours

Coming out for a tour is a great way to learn more about the animals that call Carolina Tiger Recue home. We offer many different types of tours.  Public tours are great for adults and families. Twilight tours are for adults only (18 years of age and older). Tiger Tales are a perfect option if you want to bring out really young children. Find the tour that is right for you and enjoy a walk through the sanctuary.

For all tours, tickets must be purchased in advance.

Have Fun Learning at Carolina Tiger Rescue

Field Trips

Field Trips

Virtual Field Trips link

Virtual Field Trips

Education is key to our mission.  We enjoy teaching "kids" of all ages!  Our field trips, both virtual and onsite, are ideal for groups of kids.  Our "Kid for a Day" Adult Camp provides a unique learning opportunity while allowing adults to channel their inner child.  While all of these opportunities are structured differently, in the end we want everyone to walk away knowing more about the animals we care for and what they can do to help protect them.

Bobcat at Carolina Tiger Rescue
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Caracal at Carolina Tiger Rescue
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Coatimundi at Carolina Tiger Rescue
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Cougar at Carolina Tiger Rescue
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Kinkajou at Carolina Tiger Rescue
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Lion at Carolina Tiger Rescue
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NGSD at Carolina Tiger Rescue
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Porcupine at Carolina Tiger Rescue
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Raccoon at Carolina Tiger Rescue
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Red Wolf at Carolina Tiger Rescue
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Red Wolves
Serval at Carolina Tiger Rescue
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Tiger at Carolina Tiger Rescue
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Keeper Stripes

Get involved at Carolina Tiger Rescue

Individual volunteering at Carolina Tiger Rescue

Individual Volunteering

Group volunteering at Carolina Tiger Rescue

Group Volunteering

There are so many ways to be a part of Carolina  Tiger Rescue.  Individual volunteers are able to help in many aspects of our work, including animal care, tour guides, construction, and gift shop assistance.  Work groups come from community groups, colleges, work places, and more!  It’s a great way to spend a day and it helps care for the cats.